Objective: To evaluate p53 and bcl-2 immunohistochemistry in preoperative biopsies and radical prostatectomy specimens, as predictors of biochemical recurrence. Patients and methods: Preoperative biopsies from 73 men, and the radical prostatectomies from these men and from a further 47 men, were evaluated. The serum prostate specific antigen (PSA) level, Gleason score, pathological stage and margin involvement were recorded. The immunohistochemical expression of p53 and bcl-2 was studied on a representative area of tumour with the highest Gleason grade. The median follow-up was 53 months. Results: During the follow-up 47 of the 120 patients had a biochemical recurrence. Capsular penetration was present in 63 (53%) and the surgical margins were positive in 47 (39%). The Gleason score was <7 in 81 (68%) patients; p53 was positive in 40 (66%) of 61 biopsies and 84 (71%) of 118 prostatectomy specimens. Bcl-2 was positive in eight (13%) of 63 biopsies and 20 (17%) of 118 prostatectomies. On multivariate analysis the biopsy p53, Gleason score and serum PSA were significant predictors of recurrence. On multivariate analysis, capsular penetration, PSA and margin status at prostatectomy were significant predictors of recurrence. There was also a significant interaction between PSA and margin status. Although univariately significant, neither p53 nor bcl-2 featured in the final multivariate model. Conclusion: Biopsy p53 status significantly predicts recurrence after radical prostatectomy, but its low specificity and technical issues suggest that it will not be useful in the clinical setting. However, a patient with negative p53 on biopsy is likely to have a good prognosis on prolonged follow-up.